Here’s a fun fact: more than 60 percent of vegans have never seriously dated another vegan. That’s a shocking number, especially because 45 percent of us claim that finding a vegan partner is “very important.” This leads many of us to date someone whose lifestyle differs from ours … or lying on vegan dating questionnaires.
Being upfront with yourself about what you want will help weed out those who aren’t right for you before you waste time on second (and 12th) dates. You can’t choose who you fall for, but you can ask yourself this question: can I love someone who eats animals? If the answer is no, then you may be dabbling in vegansexuality. If the answer is yes, don’t feel guilty or weird about it. Just know that like most things in life, it won’t be easy.
Because of this, here are a few tips for vegans who have fallen for a meat mouth.
Tip #1: Talk about it
As you move past the anxiety-riddled first few dates, it’s time to talk more about your rad lifestyle. Yes, rad. You’re really getting to know each other now, so it’s a good time to explain while you always have an emergency stash of almonds in your purse. While it’s good to discuss what you do and do not eat, it’s more important to talk about why.
If your date is into you, they will hopefully be into learning about this lifestyle you subscribe to, even if they don’t want to sign up themselves. When discussing your veganism, you can gauge their interest by their participation in the conversation. Are they asking questions? Or are they eyeballing their phone while you talk about the terrors of fox farming? Keep it light, but make sure you’re acknowledged and understood. If they want to fight about food politics, have the argument, but don’t have it to win. Just state your point and let it marinate.
Tip #2: Be proactive and plan ahead
Thanks to the internet, eating out as a vegan is easy to prep for, but let’s talk about the semi-awkwardness of eating in a space where you’re not yet comfortable: their house. Your new beau invites you to stay the night, and the only thing in his or her fridge is a family-sized pack of bacon. Gulp.
When things are new, travel with your own food. As your relationship progresses, you can begin leaving snacks around. A little almond milk and a package of tempeh doesn’t take up too much refrigerator real estate.
Proactivity also works with things such as vegan contraception. Travel with cruelty-free condoms so you don’t have to cringe when someone whips out a non-vegan weapon of choice. You got it covered! Literally.
Tip #3: Don’t try to convert them
This is perhaps the most important component of dating someone who is different than you: do not try to convert them. Aggressively attempting to bring them over to your side will be detrimental to your relationship. Even if it works, they will likely resent you. Dating someone with the hope that they will one day change is illogical. Love them exactly as they are or don’t love them at all. Sure, maybe one day they will realize a vegan lifestyle is right for them, but they have to come to that decision on their own—just like you did.
Tip #4: Choose your battles
As your relationship progresses, you will find a nice rhythm for navigating your differences. Maybe it’s okay if your partner eats meat when you’re not around. Maybe you always eat vegan when you dine out or you take turns picking restaurants every other time. Find out what works, and more importantly, find out where your comfort zone is. Once you’ve located it, stand by it, and let the rest go.
Personally, we don’t make a fuss about what our partners eat as long as it’s not in our living space. If they’re happy with what they’re eating, then who are we to get all up in their food business? Now, if they tried to bring what they’re eating into our kitchen, that’s a different story. No meat in my fridge, buddy! But that’s just us. You need to figure out what’s most important to you, and choose those battles.
Tip #5: Don’t judge
This is a hard one. When something makes so much sense to you—like, you know, not harming animals—it can be really frustrating when someone you’re so crazy about just doesn’t get it. But think about how hurt you would be if they judged your lifestyle choices. If your partner isn’t judging you, grant them the same courtesy. You made the decision to date an omnivore—now you have to stand by that decision.
Zoe Eisenberg and Ayinde Howell are co-authors of The Lusty Vegan, a Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans, and the People who Love Them.
Portions of this article were adapted from The Lusty Vegan by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg, © 2014 by Vegan Heritage Press.